Annie Marston at Keswick

Annie Marston at Keswick (1879)

Annie Marston was a young Sunday School teacher in Keswick, in the north of England, who wanted to encourage the children in her Sunday School class to read the Bible each day. Every Sunday she wrote our lists of passages for them to read during the week. The next Sunday she discussed the passages with them, and answered their questions. As time went by, more and more children asked for the list of passages, so Annie Marston wrote to the CSSM (Children's Special Service Mission) in London suggesting that they should print the list of Bible passages for children to read.

By this time the CSSM was printing leaflets useful for their ministry, however, the first reaction of the General Secretary and the Committee to Annie was negative.But she kept writing to them, and eventually they were persuaded to publish an annual card of daily Bible readings for children. The first Children's Scripture Union Bible reading card appeared on 1 April 1879 attracting 6,000 members, all children. It was an immediate success and within months there were Scripture Union members as far away as Belgium, Spain and Russia including adult members with the introduction of adult Bible reading cards. By 1887 there were 328,000 members in the UK alone and by 1889 there were 470,000 cards printed in 28 languages in many different countries. By 1893 CSSM had distributed 13 million children's leaflets in fifty languages all around the world.

The unique combination of ministry with children and Bible ministry spread quickly to many countries around the world and eventually the name of the movement became Scripture Union.

R T Archibald

It was Roddy Archibald who really pioneered the work in India although SU branches had begun in the 1880's

  1. He arrived in India in 1901 at the age of 25 and left at the age of 70.
  2. He began working with the English – speaking schools – but in 1904, he spent 3 months working alongside 3 Tamil evangelists, and that changed the course of his ministry. He captured the vision for recruiting and training national SU evangelists. By the time he left, 43 Indian evangelists had served on the SU staff team. Many became church leaders.
  3. He started branches of SU bible readers wherever he went – with the passion for children reading the bible in their own language.
  4. Mission in schools and camps were the backbone of the field ministry.